A tribute to Wayne Hartford: One of Star City’s best ballplayers

12 years ago

A tribute to Wayne Hartford:

One of Star City’s best ballplayers

    Editor’s note: The following is the text of Presque Isle resident Jim Carter’s speech given on the occasion of Wayne Hartford’s posthumous induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 5.

    I am very pleased to have been asked to speak on Wayne’s behalf at today’s induction ceremony. I knew Wayne in several different capacities: As an admirer of his outstanding athletic abilities in basketball and baseball; working for him while he was Director of Presque Isle’s summer baseball programs; watching him perform while at Husson College; and in recent years as a friend.

  ed-waynehartford-dcx-shpt-38  Wayne Hartford began his baseball experience playing in the Service Club League in Presque Isle. At the age of 14 he was playing for the PI Legion team and pitched them to three straight Northern Maine Championships and trips to the State tournament.

    Wayne was not only one of the best high school and college pitchers in the state but was also an All-State selection in basketball earning 2nd Team and then 1st Team honors.

    During his freshman year he had a 4-1 record and threw a no-hitter the last game of the season. I would have to guess that was a sign of things to come. While playing baseball for Presque Isle Wayne averaged 13 strikeouts per game his senior year with a 2.21 career earned run average and finished with a 19-2 career record. He was widely considered one of the best high school pitchers in the State. During the summer of his junior and senior year of high school Wayne pitched for the Houlton Collegians in the semi-pro Maine/New Brunswick League. He won his first three the first year allowing only two earned runs. He was also the winning pitcher in the annual Maine-New Brunswick League All-Star game.

    In 1963 he joined the pitching staff of Husson College where he went 4-2 with a 2.25 era. In 1964 he continued his success with a 5-2 record. In 1965 he had a 5-1 record, leading the Husson staff with a 1.88 era, 77 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. He also threw a no-hitter that year. Wayne’s senior year at Husson he had an 8-2 record highlighted by his 21-strikeout, 3-hit shutout of Nichols College. During one four-day stretch in May he won four games in four days. During a double header against Ricker College, Wayne pitched two shutout innings of relief in the first game to pick up the win and then pitched Husson to a complete game victory in the second game allowing just three hits. Three days later he pitched both ends of the double header vs. UMPI allowing just three hits in the opener and two in the second game.

    His name is still etched in the Husson record book. Wayne holds the record for most wins in a career with 22, tied for the most wins by a pitcher in a season with eight, most strikeouts by a pitcher in one game – 21, second with the most strikeouts in a season with 121. He also had eight career shutouts.

    Del Merrill, the former Husson coach, once stated that of all of the pitchers he had and saw perform at Husson, if he had to win one game he would want Wayne on the mound. Former teammate and friend, Bob Duprey said Wayne’s leadership on the basketball court and baseball diamond made all of his teammates better. Woodie Dunphy, a Hall of Fame inductee himself, said “Wayne was a competitor right up until the day he left us.”

    Wayne passed away May 8th of this year following a courageous battle with cancer. Dana Hews, one of Wayne’s coaches in high school said, and I quote “Wayne was able to concentrate and focus on the moment at hand, realize what needed to be done, come up with a plan then execute it to a successful conclusion.”

    After his Husson career he pitched semi-pro ball in the Penquis Semi-pro league hurling for Lamoine and Mattawamkeag. Wayne was offered a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox but decided not to pursue a professional baseball career.

    Wayne was inducted into the Husson University HOF in 1986 and into the PIHS HOF in 2011. I know from the conversations I had with Wayne he was very excited and appreciative of being selected for induction into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.

    I would like to close with a quote from Wayne that best reflects his attitude as an athlete and competitor: “I never played sports for individual accomplishments, to receive trophies or plaques, I played sports for two reasons … because I loved it and I wanted to win.”